Local fertilizer experts say no danger of plant explosion here

Local fertilizer experts say no danger of plant explosion here

Posted:
Anhydrous ammonia, in general, isn't used in East Tennessee. Anhydrous ammonia, in general, isn't used in East Tennessee.
"There's always a situation you don't foresee, I'm sure, but Tennessee, most of our materials are very safely stored and handled," Dr. Hubert Savoy, a soil specialist, said. "There's always a situation you don't foresee, I'm sure, but Tennessee, most of our materials are very safely stored and handled," Dr. Hubert Savoy, a soil specialist, said.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - After the deadly fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, some are asking if the same sort of tragedy could happen in East Tennessee.

It's believed the plant that exploded in Texas stored and blended anhydrous ammonia. That's a form of nitrogen gas that has been compressed into a liquid state.

Fertilizer experts tell 6 News there are no fertilizer plants like that in our area and anhydrous ammonia, in general, isn't used in East Tennessee.

Mark Pettit, the general manager of Jefferson Farmers Co-op in Dandridge, has been watching the tragedy unfold in Texas.

"I'm afraid it's going to give agriculture another black eye," he said.

Pettit and other ag businesses in the area sell and store dry fertilizer, but say there is no danger in this form.

"It's not an explosive material," Pettit said.

The same is true for the fertilizer storage and distribution facility in Rockford, one of the largest in East Tennessee, said a spokesman for the Tennessee Farmers Cooperative.

"Dry fertilizer is not a danger. The homes that may surround that facility should not be concerned," said Joe Huffine.

Ammonium nitrate is one type of dry fertilizer used in East Tennessee, but Huffine said it's not the same kind used to make bombs.

"There are two forms of ammonium nitrate. What we have stored in that facility is agricultural ammonium nitrate," Huffine said.

Dr. Hubert Savoy, soil specialist for the UT Ag Extension Service, says there's a very low risk of danger from the fertilizer used around here. 

"There's always a situation you don't foresee, I'm sure, but Tennessee, most of our materials are very safely stored and handled," Savoy said.

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